Ottawa, ON – William Lau, an acclaimed Chinese-Canadian artist who specializes in the art of Peking Opera, will perform two renowned excerpts from the classical repertoire at the National Arts Centre 4th Stage on Thursday, October 25th at 7:30 pm. With William will be guest artists from Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and China. The program showcases magnificent costumes, extraordinary make-up, and refined performance with powerful drama. English translation and a lively introduction will further facilitate the audience’s appreciation of this unique art form rarely seen in the Capital Region.
Peking Opera is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Its chief characteristic is often expressed as total theatre achieved through the complete synthesis and harmonization of singing, acting, recitation and dancing. In performance, the artist adheres to basic conventions while flexibly adapting technique to highlight artistic talent. The unique combination of realism and abstraction creates a set of sophisticated formulae embodying rich theatrical meaning. Peking Opera has had an extensive influence on modern European theatre, from Stanislavsky and Brecht amongst others.
The program on October 25th will feature two repertoires that were, at one time, banned by the Chinese government due to their content.
“Sitting in the Palace” is an excerpt from the repertoire “Silang visits his mother” based on the legend of Yang family of North Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127). Liao was an ethnic kingdom in the north of the Han China. After a fierce battle, Silang, a Han Chinese from the Song army, was captured but he split the character of his family name into two as his new name and got married with the Liao princess. Fifteen years later, Liao re-started the war. Silang wanted to visit his mother but needed the princess’ help to get a pass to cross the frontier. Silang only revealed his true identity to the princess after she swore to keep the secret. This repertoire had been banned after 1949 in both mainland China and Taiwan, for Silang’s position after being caught by the “barbarians.”
“Murder of a Concubine” is a classical repertoire with a contemporary twist as both Mandarin and English are spoken in this interpretation. It is an international collaboration between artists from China, Vancouver and Ottawa. Female characters in Chinese opera are usually graceful, loyal and dutiful in order to maintain status quo in a traditional patriarchal society. However, in this play, the conflict between an outlaw and his concubine is filled with greed, blackmail and murder. The female protagonist is a Chinese version of a Western opera “femme fatale.\” In the past, the interpretation of the play mainly focused on coarse language and sexual undertone, thus it was banned by Chinese authorities. It has since been rewritten and edited by numerous renowned artists for its new presentation.
William Lau is a graduate of York University’s Master of Fine Arts program in dance. A refined performer and passionate cultural worker, he specializes in the Dan (female roles) in Peking Opera and has presented them to Canadian audiences across the country through public performance, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, costume exhibitions and presentations. He has trained and mentored a new generation of Chinese-Canadian dance artists as well as collaborated with professional artists of diverse disciplines and cultural backgrounds. His international performance engagements include the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, China, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Special guest co-star is Mr. Jingze Wang who specializes in the elderly male roles. He is from the Shaanxi Province Peking Opera Company in China. Collaborating artists include Heidi Specht from Vancouver, Diana Tso from Toronto, and the AiYue Choir of Ottawa Chinese Community.
Thursday, October 25th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 at the NAC Box Office in person or by phone at 613-947-7000 x 620 or online at ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-888-991-2787
media contact: Melanie Willis, 613.699.3745, email@example.com